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Smith v. Asselmeier

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 5, 2017

JOHN E. SMITH, #M-32750, Plaintiff,
v.
ASSELMEIER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff John E. Smith, an inmate currently housed at Menard Correctional Center (“Menard”), filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff brings allegations pertaining to the dental care he received (or failed to receive) at Menard. (Doc. 1). In connection with these claims, Plaintiff names Asselmeier, a dentist at Menard, and seeks monetary damages.

         This case is now before the Court for a preliminary review of the Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:

(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.

         An action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of entitlement to relief must cross “the line between possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v. Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir. 2009).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff claims that he has been experiencing “serious dental issues” since May 11, 2017. (Doc. 1, p. 4). More specifically, Plaintiff alleges he has been suffering from severe pain due to an infection in his tooth. (Doc. 1, pp. 4-5). In an effort to receive treatment, Plaintiff submitted numerous complaints, sick call requests, and grievances. (Doc. 1, p. 5).

         On August 11, 2017, Plaintiff was seen by Asselmeier, a dentist, for treatment of an infected tooth (a filling). Asselmeier told Plaintiff he was not going to be able to fill the infected tooth because there was a backlog of over two thousand inmates. Id. Plaintiff told Asselmeier that he had been waiting for months to have his infected tooth treated. Id. He also said that on a scale of 1 to 10, his pain level was a 10. Id. Asselmeier said nothing could be done unless Plaintiff agreed to have his tooth extracted. Id. Plaintiff protested and said he wanted the tooth treated with a filling. Id. Asselmeier once again said nothing could be done unless Plaintiff agreed to an extraction. Id. Asselmeier also refused Plaintiff's request for antibiotics and pain medication. Id. Plaintiff claims that Asselmeier's conduct caused him to suffer needlessly and has caused his condition to worsen. (Doc. 1, p. 5). Plaintiff seeks monetary damages. (Doc. 1, p. 6).

         Merits Review Under § 1915(A)

         Based on the allegations of the Complaint, the Court finds it convenient to divide the pro se action into a single count. The parties and the Court will use this designation in all future pleadings and orders, unless otherwise directed by a judicial officer of this Court. The designation of this count does not constitute an opinion regarding its merit.

Count 1 - Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim against Asselmeier for failing to treat Plaintiff's tooth infection and associated ...

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